As global tourism begins to recover, and as governments declare soft openings, we talked to senior representatives in Cairo on how they look towards Indian travellers again. Following are the extracts:
What was India’s profile before COVID set in?
Let us say during 2019. How has this been shaping in recent years?
Egypt has witnessed a great response from the Indian market over the last few years. Numbers has jumped from 60K in 2014 to more than 128k tourists from India. We were expecting a further boom in 2020 with aggressive marketing plan which has been decided already but everything has been unfortunately halted for the time being due to the COVID crisis.
What do Indians like most about Egypt?
Indians are so friendly people. So, when they meet with the Egyptian people who share similar spirit and values, they really feel at home. Traditionally, Indians have been visiting Egypt for cultural purposes especially the historic sites like the Pyramids, the temples of Luxor and Aswan and the fabulous Nile cruises in addition to the shopping in the malls and bazaars of Cairo. Nowadays, they became more familiar with the sea-side destinations like Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh where they enjoy snorkeling , diving, water-skiing, kitesurfing, safari, etc… especially after it became so easy to connect to Sharm El Sheikh from Luxor with a direct flight and with the new highway between Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh reducing the distance to 3h30 driving only.
Post Covid, how do you see this picture changing?
There are some few changes that might happen in terms of focusing more on the sea-side destinations and in terms of using the online booking systems more extensively. Otherwise, the passion of people to travel and to explore the world will remain the same. It is not an imaginary picture. We have already started to receive tourists from many source markets like Ukraine, Switzerland, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Chzec Republic, Hungary, Belarus. Tourists are back as normal. Surely with the application of strict health measurements of social distancing and sterilization but with the same great feelings of comfort and delight.
Connectivity from India has always been a challenge. How do you see this evolving most now?
India is a huge country and the connectivity from different ends of the country to Egypt is a challenge surely. EgyptAir serves the direct traffic from Mumbai to Cairo and we depend on regional carriers to connect the two countries. That means that for some extent we will have to observe the resumption of those carriers to India to indicate the estimates of the market recovery. In that regard, we urge the national carrier of India (Air India) to consider the operation of direct flights serving tourism as well as mutual investment and cooperation in different domains.
How is Egypt opening in the next few months?
Egypt has opened its borders for International tourism by 1st July 2020 after applying the necessary health measures and after setting the standards and rules of operating the tourist amenities to fulfill the requirements and recommendations of the World Health Organization and the other involved organizations. For example, Egypt has introduced a dedicated certificate for the hotels and resorts based on the application of a package of rules and conditions inspected by international agencies and without which they cannot receive any guests. Such measurements have acquired the trust of the international tourism community including WTTC which has recently awarded Egypt the Safe Travels stamp.
The result has been noticed soon with dozens of requests from air carriers and tour operators across the world to resume flights to Egypt. So, we expect a hot winter season in Egypt near to the normal levels.